SINGAPORE: Transport grievances were one of the main issues dominating a dialogue session held after Transport Minister Raymond Lim's community visit to the Thomson Division.
"We don't mind, as vehicle owners, to pay increased ERP (fees). But we are frustrated when we pay the ERP (fees), we don't see any ease of traffic flow on the CTE," complained a resident.
The answer? It may be frustrating, however there is no one magic solution but a range of measures adjusted over time as the situation changes.
Mr Lim explained: "As a first step, we will do what we call traffic engineering solutions. So if you look at the Central Expressway, we have widened it through the years and only recently we did it again.
"What's the problem here? Let's say we widen the road. When we first widened the road, the traffic might improve. When it improves, what happens? People who previously didn't drive on that road, the Central Expressway, will now drive on it.
"So, some say, 'build more roads'. Yes, build more roads, that will help. Some say, 'better public transport'. Yes, better public transport will also help. But at the end of the day, you also still need this traffic management, which involves not just the ERP, but as you know in our system, we also have COE."
But it wasn't just about the ERP. A whole range of transport issues came up during the dialogue session.
There were suggestions ranging from having premium bus services to 24-hour senior citizen concession passes.
There was also a suggestion to have the Public Transport Council (PTC) review public transport fares only every four years, just before the elections.
But, Mr Lim said: "If we freeze the whole thing for four years - no fare increase - the pressure will say, 'why not extend another four years?' The experience of other countries is that the minute you allow the fare increase to be politicised, that over time, the service of your bus standards goes down. If they can't get these returns to renew the bus fleet, the bus fleet will start to shrink and as the bus fleet starts to shrink because they don't replace it, there will be more and more overcrowding. So the situation gets worse and people will complain."